Amid the crazy multi-tasking I’m attempting, with my list of things to do a mile long, a friend calls midday, “Want to go for a run on the beach?”

I should say no. There’s so much to do. And I’m actually beginning to make progress! I need to put in another load of laundry, there are dishes in the sink and I just heard the tones of more email hitting my inbox. I have newspaper articles spread out on the bed (I’m still trying to update my website,) the cat just stunk up her litter box till I can’t breathe and I have to finish writing a story for my book and writing group.

“Love to,” I say.

I don’t want to lose sight of what’s important. And something happened this past week that served as a good reminder.

The days-old grand-baby of my writing coach underwent open-heart surgery. Disturbed by her shallow breathing, doctors discovered a malformation that needed correcting. Barely out of the womb, little Lucy now recovers engulfed by a tangle of tubes and IV’s. At a time when they should be bonding and changing diapers, her parents are watching and praying as she is weaned off a ventilator. They should be sleepless, but not this way. It’ll be weeks before Lucy’s out of the ICU. Just weeks before, we listened to her first cries recorded by a proud grandmom. It’s a lesson I’ve learned before, but it bears repeating. Things can change in an instant.

As my friend and I move down the beach, she runs through the shallow water, pushing my beach wheelchair. I call it my dune buggy because of the fat tires. Another friend always slips and calls it a stroller, cause that’s what it must feel like when jogging. It’s a beautiful spring day and the cool water splashes up on my legs, then quickly dries in the sun.

When I was still in the hospital after the hemorrhage, friends took me outside to sit beside a small pond and fountain. It was just the parking lot really, but to me it might as well have been a day at the beach. My best friend says she’ll never forget the look on my face as I turned my face toward the sun and breeze and closed my eyes. Gratitude. Most people never get the chance to truly appreciate something as simple as warm sunshine on your face. I did that day, but I can already feel it slipping away.

I love the catchphrase for the TBS channel. Stay off task. But I don’t mean it like they do. They want you to watch more mindless T.V. I’m suggesting you stay off task doing something mindful. I need to repeat that slogan every so often so I don’t get bogged down by all the little, daily things.

If tragedy struck tomorrow, what could wait? Would that phone call, email or work project really matter? Of course not. Make headway on those things, yes. After all, for many of you, that’s what pays the bills. But, every once in awhile, remember to stay off task. Don’t lose sight of the important stuff: friendships, loved ones and a day at the beach.

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